Pearl Mist Review

Was great until the boat left the dock

Review for Cuba Cruise on Pearl Mist
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2-5 Cruises • Age 20s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Dec 2018
Traveled with children

The Pearl Mist and Pearl Seas Cruise Line represent a missed opportunity. This cruise missed the mark in several ways, but fulfilled many of my main goals for the cruise: the food was great and so was the room turn-down service. Every day the dining room was open for about 2 hours for each meal. There was no assigned seating and it was never dressy. The service was expedient and the food was varied and almost always very good if at the very least acceptable. The staff taking care of the rooms did an excellent job and were just and friendly and nice as the wait staff. So why is this review a “poor”? Just about everything else. The Pearl Mist was built in 2007, but actually went into service in 2014 due to a legal dispute that like everything else on this cruise is poorly explained with murkey details. The ship is small. Really small. With three lounges and a fourth being used as a storeroom, this vessel was designed to rely on ports to entertain people. The rooms were small but not intolerable and all but one have a balcony. The beds were very comfortable but the furniture was dated, and the comically small TV in all the rooms had a screen smaller than my laptop’s but a wide variety of cable channels. There’s a small desk and the bathroom is a nice size. The lounges are also fairly nice with comfy couches and then less comfy chairs along with a veritable vending machine of snack foods and canned drinks. No part of the ship exceeds one floor, which leads to a very claustrophobic feeling unless you go to the top. There’s also only one elevator and it was closed without announcements twice during the cruise - it’s a long walk from the cabins on the fifth floor to the first floor dining room. The real problems with cruising aboard the Pearl Mist started once we left the port. First, our schedule was changed without notice such that we lost days in all of our Cuban ports and added an afternoon in Freeport. Our room was also changed two days before the cruise without notice, apparently even to the baggage people who delivered our luggage to our old room, and then took ages to deliver it to our real room. The sea days were painful with few activities. There is no pool, there is no theatre. There are lectures and Boards games. The lecturers were quite good on the history of Cuba and eniriched the cruise greatly - the board games were fine. After two consecutive sea days we arrived only minutes late to Santiago De Cuba. This was my favourite port at which we stopped as we had a full day of excursioning and entertainment off the ship at a local hotel. Speaking of entertainment, the entertainers aboard our vessel performed almost every night on two electric guitars and seemed keen to play the same songs almost every night. Because the cruise was to Cuba most of the shore excursion were run by their government and went like clockwork. However, the lack of information given to us made it difficult to arrive to tours on time or even know where a tour was going and how to get there. Most of our shore excursions were quite good, except for Cienfuegos where they didn’t go to the botanical gardens and instead we were guided around a crowded shopping district. Why couldn’t we go to the garden? Apparently it was Christmas Eve and all the guides were off celebrating. That would make sense except the other ship in the port had 3 excursions to the same botanical garden throughout the day. The concealing actions taken by the cruise directors were routine and made the cruise difficult on and off the ship. We were seldom told when we were delayed and even less frequently why. No matter what we never received an apology for tardiness and lack of organization. We probably lost 3 hours in our ports because of various uncategorized delays that were never explained or acknowledged by the cruise directors. Some would blame this in the Cuban government’s disorganization, but when we had the misfortune of visiting Freeport (which is a real harbour with a large harbour authority) we docked a full 45 minutes late. We visited Freeport to (I guess) make up for the day we seemed to loose in Havana (this is all extrapolation because we were never told about it). Apparently the Cubans bumped our boat out of Havana harbour early so we only had 7 or 8 daylight hours in what was supposed to be the centerpiece of our Cuba cruise. Then we went to Freeport, packed onto rented busses, went to two destinations before the drivers decided it was too dark and late and brought us back to the ship halfway through the tour - all while our cruise directors went out on the town to party. Freeport was the low of our cruise and it was the product of an ill conceived schedule change that was never explicitly acknowledged or apologized for. This schedule and contempt passenger care meant we spent double the time on our “Cuba Cultural Voyage” at sea as we did in Cuba. Some of these changes would have been acceptable if we had known in advance and properly compensated. These were rookie errors that stemmed from inexperienced, poorly trained, and probably underpaid cruise directors. The Captain of our ship was also absent from any anncouncement other than one he made announcing a delayed arrival to Havana that was then further delayed afterwards. Despite a day of tough seas that the ship handled so ungracefully that Dramamine was out in a tin at the front desk, we were never contacted by the bridge apologizing for the weather or reassuring us that the ship wasn’t going to sink, instead just endless intercom reminders to hold onto the handrails. The failures of our managing crew and the extreme upscale pricing of this voyage make it impossible to recommend. This cruise ship was a fantastic, if not overpriced, upscale hotel - it was the sailing that sunk this ship. It’s frustrating because the dining room, bar, and cabin staff were an oasis in the desert of success that defined this cruise experience. Furthermore the schedule on their website was nothing like what we actually experienced, we skipped three of their listed days. The cruise attempted to waste our time to stretch this beleaguered journey to 11 days. We lost 1/2 our time in Cuba for reasons we will never know. While your experience may very, our time with Pearl Seas will most certainly be the last. With the schedule we endured, and the possibility that the schedule could change without notice, I can’t recommend this cruise to anyone. It was neither what I paid for nor what I expected.

Cabin Review

Cabin H

Our cabin was nice if not somewhat small and cramped. The TV was really small and the speakers were horrible as was the DVD player. The lovely views from the balcony, the comfy beds, and reasonably sized bathroom made up for this.

Port Reviews

Santiago de Cuba

On a bus, saw the sights. Stopped in several local business and points of interest. Good day!

Santo Tomas de Castilla

Went to Trinidad, very nice. Cool old city with fantastic architecture. Beware of the cobblestones though.


Boring tour, nothing to see. Maybe the gardens are better but they were closed and the only thing in the city center is shopping


Fantastic City! So much to see, so much to do. Wished we had more time, definitely worth 2 or more days to see everything.


Tacky but classic show. Something to see if you want to know why Fidel’s revolution succeeded.

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